SCI-ART LAB

Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

                                                                       Interactive science series

Q: What do you think of climate change deniers who rule some countries?

Krishna: Each time I hear them speak, these thoughts go around in circles in my mind: A scientist  spends his whole life attempting to advance human knowledge while watching in frustration as politicians spend theirs ignoring it /rubbishing it/ridiculing it/ dismantling it .

What a sad state of affairs we are in?

Q: Is that because  of science communication failure?

Krishna: Not necessarily. If a person chooses to refuse to listen to you, completely closes his ears and eyes, what can a science communicator do about it?

Even if the whole world says 'yes', if he says 'no' and stubbornly does whatever he wants to do just because he has power, what can a science communicator do about it? 

Q: What are some bitter truths about being a scientist?  

Krishna: The only bitter truth about being a scientist is dealing with people who have completely opposite views to your facts.

Scientists enter the field with full knowledge that they have to deal with things in the dark for the first time, there will be several road blocks that try to stop them at every step of the way and they need to be courageous and persistent to continue.

When you choose a difficult path, you shouldn’t be afraid to walk on it. Then why complain about it?

Q: Recently I have read this article which put me in a dilemma: Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the associat...

Are saturated fats good or bad?

Krishna: I think it just isn’t that simple to say saturated fats cause some diseases or not or responsible for them when several other factors too influence the outcomes. When several factors decide outcomes, they follow the interplay of scientific rules and routes and exactly fit into the reaction realities. How a person gets a disease or survives it depends on the sum total outcomes of scientific factors occurring simultaneously.

I have seen people who ate SFs whole life but lived very long and healthy lives. I have also seen very young people dying out of heart diseases because of suscesptibility because of their genetic make up plus life style.

Q: When we are facing difficult times, especially during emergencies, which one should we trust - science or religion?

Krishna: When the answer is quite obvious, why do people still ask me this Q?!  

You and your relatives met with an accident and are facing a life and death situation with regard to your loved ones. Can you  save them just by following what the priest tells you to do? Don't waste your time on this choice if you are intelligent.

Call the ambulance immediately, man, and take them to a hospital. If there is any chance of your loved ones surviving the emergency, it is by following the scientific route. Period!

Q: Is it possible for bacteria to develop resistance to toothpastes?

Krishna: Yes, bacteria can develop resistance to medicated toothpastes.

Alcohol mouth washes are different. Most mouthwashes kill bacteria with alcohol. It's hard for a bacteria to evolve anti alcohol protections. However, some bacteria do develop resistance or tolerance towards alcohol too. 

An antibacterial chemical like Triclosan commonly added to toothpaste may pose a threat to health. It can promote widespread bacterial resistance to antibiotics and scientists have called for further safety studies. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is worried about bacterial resistance, as well as evidence that the chemical is a hormone disruptor.

The effects of triclosan depend largely on the concentration used.

At high concentrations it works by interfering with the outer membrane that protects bacteria, making it permeable so that triclosan can penetrate it and kill the microbes. At lower concentrations, triclosan attacks several targets. For instance, it slows down drastically several important biochemical reactions inside the bacteria.

Some bacteria have an innate resistance to triclosan, possibly because their outer membrane does not let it through. When bacteria are exposed to triclosan, some strains become resistant to it by mutating or by activating resistance genes bacteria away so there's nothing to become resistant to.

Researchers have uncovered the molecular tricks used by bacteria to fight the effects of fluoride too, which is commonly used in toothpaste and mouthwash to combat tooth decay. Sections of RNA messages called riboswitches -- which control the expression of genes -- detect the build-up of fluoride and activate the defenses of bacteria, including those that contribute to tooth decay.

Widespread Genetic Switches and Toxicity Resistance Proteins for Fl...

Q: Are there any successful scientists who are alcoholics? I've been drinking since I was 14 and I'm definitely an alcoholic, but I've always been pretty smart, and drinking has never stopped me from doing well in academics. I'm starting a PhD program at MIT this fall. I was wondering if anyone else was like this and how they were able to get through it?  

Krishna: Too much alcohol screws up your mind. That is really bad for critical thinking. When there is no clarity in thinking, you cannot go far enough in research.

Doing well in academics is different from conducting independent, creative research.

I have never heard about any alcoholic scientist becoming successful. I went through lists of famous people who are alcoholic but found no scientists name in them!

I read an interesting story about scientists drinking too much in Antarctica: Scientists in Antarctica Drink a Lot. Maybe Too Much

Scientists themselves accept it is really bad for research.

Now choose between becoming an alcoholic and a successful scientist.

If you think, you can become both simultaneously, well, good luck to you!

Q: What if we knew everything about the universe?

Krishna: You can manipulate things to suit your necessities and comforts and lead a very fruitful life.

You admire the full picture more.

But then things get bored after some time if there is nothing more to discover, when all the mysteries are solved.

Scientists become jobless.

Q: Do superstitions turn out to be true?
Krishna: That depends on your perception and interpretation of a situation and need not be a true fact.

If you believe that something works for you, there is a chance that it might work because your confidence levels and work efforts increase because of placebo effect.

Superstitions are superstitions. Period. Some minds need external emotional support to work properly and attain success. Then these minds start believing in irrational things and try to interpret a chance positive situation as authentication of their beliefs.

Superstitions never turned out to be true for me. Because my perception and interpretation are based on reality and rationalistic analysis. 

Q: what should we learn in order to be a scientist?

Krishna: 

Independent, critical thinking, completely unbiased.

Creatively connecting things.

Ability to see the whole picture

Keen observation

Unquenchable thirst for knowledge

Clarity of mind and thought

Dealing with read blocks effectively

Ability to overcome failures

Questioning everything without fear

Passion for research

More details here: The specific traits of a scientific mind

Q: Everybody is entitled to have his or her own beliefs. What right do scientists and rationalists have to oppose them?

Krishna: Every body is entitled to have his or her own beliefs. We agree. But ... only till they don't become irrational and harm the societies we live in.

Read these shocking and disgusting reports and then say the same thing you said again:

Bathinda shocker: Woman kills grandchildren in bid to ward off evil spirits

Parents allow exorcist to kill daughter, rape body. Wanted to appease god for gold

https://in.yahoo.com/news/parents-allow-exorcist-kill-15-035016588.html

How To Get a Vaccine Religious Exemption

Baby death: Parents convicted over vegetable milk diet:   http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-40274493

A Belgian court has given six-month suspended jail terms to the mother and father of a baby boy who died after being fed a diet of vegetable milk.

They were found guilty of causing the baby's death unintentionally.

The baby, Lucas, weighed just 4.3kg (9.5lb) when he died aged seven months, dehydrated and malnourished.

The parents, from Beveren near Antwerp, ran a health food shop and fed him for four months with milk made from oats, buckwheat, rice and quinoa.

The mother did not produce breast milk and the baby had refused infant formula.

But they don't know that a baby needs more than vegetable milk!

Read them? I am sure now you understand why we are trying to fight these evil superstitions and beliefs and ignorance.

This is what another scientist said after reading my answer to the above Q:  

Human beings don’t have the collective maturity to handle this age of technological advancements we are dealing with. This regards the nexus we have crossed broadly.

So, whether it’s CRISPR, atomic technology,  information on the internet, or whatever else, more and more power is in the hands of the relatively few stupid and insane people. This scares me the most!

Q: What are the benefits of male circumcision?

Krishna:  Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, the tissue covering the head(glans) of the penis. According to experts this should be done in young babies. The procedure becomes  complicated and riskier in older babies, children, and men. If done on the newborn, the procedure takes about five to 10 minutes. Adult circumcision takes about one hour.

A man/boy who undergoes this process has a reduced risk of Urinary Track Infections, some sexually transmitted diseases in men. Protection against penile cancer and a reduced risk of cervical cancer in female sex partners. Prevention of balanitis (inflammation of the glans) and balanoposthitis (inflammation of the glans and foreskin) is another benefit.

However, I want to add here... the use of circumcision for medical or health reasons is an issue that continues to be debated. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision. The procedure may be recommended in older boys and men to treat phimosis  (the inability to retract the foreskin) or to treat an infection of the penis.

Q: How is it that even those who study/practice science can firmly believe in things like "juice cleanses" or the hazards of fossil fuel use? As in believing in non scientifically accepted practices, treatments, fad diets, climate denial etc.  

Krishna: I have mentioned this several times. Neutral Critical thinking is what makes you differentiate between facts and fiction, science and pseudo-science. If you are attached to something, it screws up your mind, you begin to reason with motivation from backward from belief to evidence because that will subject you to numerous cognitive biases and you risk fooling yourself about the nature of reality.

If you are trained scientifically, critical thinking is a part of it. But some people treat it like car driving, learn it on the roads and forget it when you go home. They limit their critical thinking to the labs and forget it as soon as they cross its gates.

Anyway, not all people will be similar, some need emotional attachments, they go to any extent to be in brackets of groups, friends, peers, loved ones, societies, families etc. and will not have the courage go against them.

Recently, a study was conducted which emphasizes similar views . In this study, it was learned that support for climate science doesn't increase with science literacy and technically astute people are more "culturally polarized" than other folks and tend to side with the views of people in their social setting about global warming, concludes the survey of 1,540 people nationwide in the US! Testing science literacy with questions from the National Science Foundation's annual assessment of technical knowledge, the survey also collected cultural viewpoints from people in the study. The public's limited ability to comprehend science and the opposing sets of cultural values that are responsible are the main culprits according to this study. The reason: Basically people with technical smarts just use their abilities to better rationalize their already-held views ( that is how pseudo-science concepts originate - when people try to use their science knowledge to support their existing views and those of their groups). And why is that? What matters a lot more is having a belief that fits in with their group -- it can really ruin your life to hold a position that is at odds with your peers on a controversial issue. So it makes sense that people will pay more attention to "getting it right" relative to their group. It doesn't take a lot of sophisticated thought to be pretty good at that. But if you are capable of technical reasoning -- and you know a lot about science (they measured that too) -- you can do an even better job finding support for his or her group's position and rationalizing away evidence that challenges that position. If that is how things work, then people who are good at quantitative reasoning will be even more polarized. "Fitting in with your friends matters a lot more to people than getting climate science right!"

Only a handful of people will have the courage and ability to think critically and differently from their loved ones and friends. And only a few amongst them will have the courage to accept the truth, stand by it and swim against the current !

Q: Your analyses of several issues has surprized me. We don't think like you do. You have a completely different mind. 

Were you like this from the beginning? How can we too become like you?

Krishna: After I got my training in science, all my earlier beliefs got  thorough critical analyses and most of them were thrown out of the window. It really changed me.

I think my training was complete and absolute. Now science has me completely in its grip. It runs in my blood, occupies each and every cell in my body, dictates my thought process and responsible for all the conclusions I make. There is no escape!

So it depends on the science training you get. Go for it to become a complete person of science.

Q: A person sent me his birth date and asked me to provide a horoscope done scientifically! And this is my reply to him:

Krishna: You will get a good job in the near future, your chances of promotion gets enhanced, you will acquire more property!

Me, predicting the future? yes, I can! Go, check whether my predictions are as good as anyone else’s or not. Tell me whether they have come true or not!

I was asked to answer this Q, man!

Now I want to predict this: Whatever anybody says in this regard will have a chance of only 50% of it getting true irrespective of who says it.

Read here why: Debate between scientists and people who practice pseudo-science - ...

Q: A libra men and cancerien women, how is their compatibility and fights.what details can one describe about this couple?

Krishna: The compatibility depends on your personalities which develop in various situations, not on your zodiac signs.

Read here why: Debate between scientists and people who practice pseudo-science - ...

Q: Who is the great scientist among all the scientists?  

Krishna: You cannot answer this question with accuracy!

Each field has its own importance and each contribution has its own significance in science. If anyone thinks one is more important than the others, it just shows their skewed perception.

All knowledge is inter-related and is brought forth by creative connections of a genius mind.

Each and every scientist that has contributed to the knowledge bank someway is great. 

Q: How would you describe yourself in 100 words?

Krishna: Scientist to the core, written a hundred times!

Q: Should the Government of India patronize traditional Indian knowledge of Vedic astrology? Vedic astrology is a traditional Indian knowledge like yoga. Vedic astrology has lost patronage of King or any govt for a long time after invasion of India by foreigners.  

Krishna: There is no need. Millions follow it anyway.

What the Government should encourage is critical thinking and realistic picture. Like this one: Debate between scientists and people who practice pseudo-science - ...

Q: How can I become a scientific astrologer? What is the science behind astrologers predicting the future?

Krishna: There is no science behind astrology. In fact it is pseudo-science!

Astrologers depend on human cues and already written texts generalizing things. They don’t have any special gifts.

However, modern science has proved that all that is pseudo-science. Read here why:

Debate between scientists and people who practice pseudo-science - ...

And watch how rationalists are exposing them:

Q: Is evolution still taking place? If, yes, what are the recent discoveries that validate it?

Krishna: 

Yes, evolution is still taking place. Here you will find a few examples:

Convergent evolution before your eyes!

Ah! Another evolution episode before your own eyes!

New Lizard Shows Evolution’s Predictability | Quanta Magazine

Intense Natural Selection in a Population of Darwin's Finches (Geos...

Evolution retraces its steps to advance

Q:Some children claim to see dead/unknown people who aren't there. How can incidents like these be explained with science?  

Krishna: Some children make up things using the stories they hear, while some hallucinate.

According to neuro-scientists, a person whose brain has undergone some change or damage can 'imagine' things of the 'past life' and talk about souls wandering in the sky.

Soul?! What is it according to science and scientists?

Q: Why can't armpit bacteria develop resistance to deodorant?

Krishna: Most antiperspirants contain ingredients called aluminium salts which also kill bacteria. The main way in which they work is to dissolve in sweat and create a thin coating of gel to cover over the sweat glands. This coating reduces the amount of sweat released onto the surface of the skin for a number of hours after the antiperspirant is applied.

Deodorants are used under the arm or all over the body (as body sprays) to control body odour. Deodorants use ingredients such as alcohol and antimicrobials to kill bacteria and include fragrance to mask bad smells.

Living beings use their resources judiciously. Bacteria develop resistance to chemicals or drugs or medicines only if they are harmful for their survival.

If the deodorant is harmful for the survival of bacteria, yes, they would definitely develop resistance.

But it is difficult to develop resistance by bacteria to alcohol based products because of the different mechanism involved in destroying the microbes. The reason immunity to alcohol hasn't evolved much is because it would require a change in the fundamental chemical properties of biological molecules.

But bacterial resistance and tolerance to alcohol is evolving too:

Relatively Alcohol-Resistant Mycobacteria Are Emerging Pathogens in...

Ethanol tolerance in bacteria.

In Vitro Introduction of Hardy Alcohol Resistant Bacillus spp. thro...

Ethanol Tolerance in Bacteria

Scientists found deodorants and antiperspirants - which prevent the glands under the arms from producing sweat - change the microbial "community" that live underneath arms, by eliminating some of the good bacteria and allowing more harmful bacteria to grow.

So the answer to your question is - if the deodorants contain alcohol, bacteria find it difficult to develop resistance.

Again if the deodorant doesn’t contain any harmful substance to them and is used only to cover the smell, bacteria doesn’t want to waste their resources.

The bottom line is Bacteria can develop resistance to deodorants (even if they contain alcohol and aluminium) when and because they are harmful for bacterial survival!

Appanna VD, Kepes M, Rochon P. 1994 Aluminum tolerance inPseudomonas fluorescens ATCC 13525: involvement of a gelatinous lipid-rich residue.FEMS Microbiol Lett 119, 295–302.Google Scholar

http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitst...

Q:Why do scientist have such a hard time saying, "I don't know"?  

Krishna: What?! In my experience, scientists are the first people to accept their ignorance when compared to others.

I myself accept that I don’t even know 1% of science, leave alone other subjects! But that is more than what several people know about science.

Some time back I wrote this article on the subject…

Science, as an infant, must accept that it doesn't know the answers...

So?!

Q: Can we use evolutionary pressure on fungi to find drugs for multiple drug resistant bacteria?
Penicillin was created by a fungus because it wanted to kill bacteria competing with it. Why don't we replicate this process by creating cultures that have drug resistant bacteria and fungi and, and continually support the fungi until they mutate to produce bacteria killing substances?
Krishna: Good idea and scientists are already trying several of these methods that can work but our success of getting such a drug depends on several things…
The bacteria against which the substance is produced should be harmful for both Human beings and the fungus.
The produced substance should not be toxic for human beings too.
The fungal metabolite should be able to hoodwink bacterial resistance process ( it shouldn’t put evolutionary pressure on bacteria which is highly difficult when the Q of survival involves). If we don’t get a product with these qualities, the new antibiotic too goes the penicillin way.
Q: Is astrology accurate and scientific?
Krishna: There isn’t anything called ‘accuracy’ or ‘scientific’ in astrology. Read here why:

Debate between scientists and people who practice pseudo-science - ...

Q: Does sodium pentathol really work as truth serum? What kinds of truth are revealed? Q: Is there a scientist working on a truth serum?

Krishna: It is controversial topic. You cannot rely on it. Read the details here: What is truth serum?

Q: What secretly scares you the most?

Krishna: Baseless beliefs, superstitions and ignorance! And when people say everybody is entitled to have his or her own set of them and that we don’t have any right to say anything against them!!!

Every body is entitled to have his or her own beliefs. We agree. But ... only till they don't become irrational and harm the societies we live in.

Read these shocking and disgusting reports and then say the same thing you said again:

Bathinda shocker: Woman kills grandchildren in bid to ward off evil spirits

Parents allow exorcist to kill daughter, rape body. Wanted to appease god for gold

https://in.yahoo.com/news/parents-allow-exorcist-kill-15-035016588.html

How To Get a Vaccine Religious Exemption

Baby death: Parents convicted over vegetable milk diet: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-40274493

A Belgian court has given six-month suspended jail terms to the mother and father of a baby boy who died after being fed a diet of vegetable milk.

They were found guilty of causing the baby's death unintentionally.

The baby, Lucas, weighed just 4.3kg (9.5lb) when he died aged seven months, dehydrated and malnourished.

The parents, from Beveren near Antwerp, ran a health food shop and fed him for four months with milk made from oats, buckwheat, rice and quinoa.

The mother did not produce breast milk and the baby had refused infant formula.

But they don't know that a baby needs more than vegetable milk!

Read them? I am sure now you understand why we are trying to fight these evil superstitions, beliefs and ignorance.

Scared? Yes, we are! If we don’t oppose them with all our might, they would engulf the societies we live in and bring big harm to the human kind! 

Q: What are your views on astrology and the effect of gem stones?

Krishna: Astrology is pseudo-science and cannot predict anything accurately. We have basis for this statement in real science.

Read here why:

Debate between scientists and people who practice pseudo-science - ...

If you want to increase your confidence levels through placebo effect, you can use gem stones but in reality it is rubbish to say that they effect you in any way.

Q:Why do people in India still believe in superstitions? My frnd hs nt been able to clear UPSC Prelims since the past 2 years, both by a small margin even though she is immensely talented.While this time she was filling the form, her mother complained about why she used the same photograph she has been using since two years on the form. Isn't this stupid?

Krishna: Superstitions originate in a highly chaotic state, when your confidence levels are low. Then your mind tries to take irrational external emotional help to boost its confidence.

Moreover, some people propagate the idea that superstitions have a scientific origin to authenticate their irrational beliefs and the innocent believe them.

We believe in pseudo-science more than science.

Some people try to keep others in their grip by using their fears and suggesting stupid remedies.

Do you have the courage and determination to really get rid of superstitions? Then read this article: Science's rules are unyielding, they will not be bent in any way fo...

Q: What are some superstitions that have evolved from modern science?

Krishna: What?! Some questions really shock me.

Modern science and superstitions work in completely opposite ways.

Superstitions are irrational and baseless beliefs without any scientific basis. Some people try to give scientific twists to them using ancient and pseudo-science. These things don’t accept challenges, criticize falsifying logic, and ignore scientific methodology.

Science strictly sticks to modern scientific methodology. It accepts challenges and improves itself by falsification and constant verification.

Oh, yes, some scientists might follow baseless beliefs because of inadequate scientific training especially in critical thinking.

Therefore, being a scientist is a state of mind, not a profession.

Get this right: Individual opinions and beliefs have no place in science. They don’t come under the heading science. Don’t equate a scientists’ stupid belief with science.

Science never gives birth to superstitions. Period.

Q: Is it possible for bacteria to develop resistance to toothpaste?  

Krishna: 

Yes, bacteria can develop resistance to medicated toothpastes.

Alcohol mouth washes are different. Most mouthwashes kill bacteria with alcohol. It's hard for a bacteria to evolve anti alcohol protections.

But bacterial resistance and tolerance to alcohol is evolving too:

Relatively Alcohol-Resistant Mycobacteria Are Emerging Pathogens in...

Ethanol tolerance in bacteria.

In Vitro Introduction of Hardy Alcohol Resistant Bacillus spp. thro...

An antibacterial chemical like Triclosan commonly added to toothpaste may pose a threat to health. It can promote widespread bacterial resistance to antibiotics and scientists have called for further safety studies. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is worried about bacterial resistance, as well as evidence that the chemical is a hormone disruptor.

The effects of triclosan depend largely on the concentration used.

At high concentrations it works by interfering with the outer membrane that protects bacteria, making it permeable so that triclosan can penetrate it and kill the microbes. At lower concentrations, triclosan attacks several targets. For instance, it slows down drastically several important biochemical reactions inside the bacteria.

Some bacteria have an innate resistance to triclosan, possibly because their outer membrane does not let it through. When bacteria are exposed to triclosan, some strains become resistant to it by mutating or by activating resistance genes bacteria away so there's nothing to become resistant to.

Researchers have uncovered the molecular tricks used by bacteria to fight the effects of fluoride too, which is commonly used in toothpaste and mouthwash to combat tooth decay. Sections of RNA messages called riboswitches -- which control the expression of genes -- detect the build-up of fluoride and activate the defenses of bacteria, including those that contribute to tooth decay.

Widespread Genetic Switches and Toxicity Resistance Proteins for Fl...

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